“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
What is the opposite of merciful? And to whom should we show mercy?
(This post continues the theme from the previous one – speaking of those in Matthew 5:7: “The Merciful.” Please read Part One if you have not already done so.)
The Opposite of Merciful
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged;” (Luke 6:37a)
What does it mean to judge someone? If someone does something that we do not like or that we disagree with, we often have the tendency to draw conclusions about them, think negatively towards them, and act un-lovingly around them.
However, God has not shown His people the judgment they deserve. He has cleansed them through the blood of His Son; and has withheld His judgment from us for our sins.
Once He cleanses us, He forgets our sins and embraces us in love. But if we choose to be critical and judgmental of other people, God will bring judgment on us for our lack of mercy; He will judge us for our sins.
“Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned;” (Luke 6:37b)
Instead, we are to be like the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The Holy Spirit does not condemn us; but He convicts us of our sins, and leads us to the grace and mercy of God our Father. When people wrong us, we can extend that same hope by forgiving them and showing the grace and mercy of Jesus by loving them when they least deserve it.
“Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37c)
In the verses of Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray. Just after this prayer, He tells them that unless they forgive others, God will not forgive them (Matthew 6:15).
God is serious about His children showing mercy to others, especially in the area of forgiveness. Jesus told the parable of the Unmerciful Servant to demonstrate this teaching.
The servant owed a huge sum to his master, but was forgiven his debt when he pleaded for mercy. However, when a fellow servant asked for time to repay a small amount of money, the first servant refused to show him any mercy and would not forgive his debt. (Read Matthew 18:21-35.)
If we expect God to forgive us our sins, we must have mercy and love toward others and forgive them when they hurt us.
Bitterness is a pill we take hoping someone else dies. Forgiveness is something we give someone else that sets us free.
To Whom Do We Show Mercy?
To Those Who Do Not Believe
“And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by flesh.” (Jude 1:23)
The Bible is clear that we are not to judge others outside the church, but that we are to instead be merciful, and lovingly draw them into the kingdom of light out from the kingdom of darkness. Although we are not of the world (John 17:16), we have been sent into the world (John 17:18) to destroy the works of the devil and rescue those who are held captive by sin.
To Those Who are Poor
“Learn to do well: seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless and plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)
As you read through the Bible, especially the prophetic books, you will learn that God has such a heart for the poor, oppressed, and hurting. We as Christians have the mind of Christ; and as we abide in Him, we are one in spirit with Him. Therefore, we allow His heart for the lost, hurting, poor, and oppressed to work through us. We show mercy to those who cannot possibly repay us, those who have nothing. We offer them hope in the life of Jesus; and we supply their physical needs as well, having compassion on those who cannot help themselves.
It is the job of the church to seek social justice, and not something relegated to the government. When we see others in need, we are to seek justice, encourage the oppressed, and defend those without a voice.
To Those in the Family of God
“And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Everyone knows that family can be difficult, and this includes the family of God. All of us in the body of Christ are brothers and sisters together, with God as our Father. The Bible has much to say about showing mercy, compassion, kindness, and love to our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Jesus said that the world will recognize us as His disciples if we have love for one another.
Even though it can be tough to love those that we see all the time in church, youth group, and at other church functions, including other churches that may not share our exact doctrines – we are commanded to love them, show compassion towards them, and forgive them, just as God has done for us.
When we do this, we are demonstrating God’s love for the world to see.
Read the words of Jesus in Luke 6:37-38 and Luke 6:39-42. How we treat others is how we will be treated. If we judge, criticize, and condemn others harshly, we will be judged harshly by God. But if we forgive, are generous, and are merciful – then we will be forgiven, and be shown mercy. With the measure we use, it will be measured to us.
Jesus said in these passages from Luke that we first need to allow the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts and root out all sin and impurity before we start pointing out everything that’s wrong in others and judging them accordingly.
Throughout the Bible we read that God’s ways are mercy and truth. Let us walk in the truth, but let us also walk in the same mercy that characterizes our God and King.